Just like 3 days in the Caldecott Tunnel

I’m looking at the results of the air sample the BAAQMD took on Monday, Match 30. 2009, the day after the FISC fire.  This means the chemicals they measured had already dissipated quite a bit.  One of them, 1, 3 butadiene is expected to reduce to “normal” level of 0.15 to 0.3ppb in a couple of hours according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website.

That’s how quickly it evaporates. Which makes it all the more striking that, 24 hours after the fire had been put out, levels of 1, 3 butadiene were still astronomically, horrifically, dangerously high at 60.1ppb

And the effects of breathing “high levels of it for a short time?” Birth defects in pregnant women. And, “central nervous system damage, blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, headache, decreased blood pressure and pulse rate, and unconsciousness. There are no recorded cases of accidental exposures at high levels that caused death in humans, but this could occur.” As if that weren’t enough, “the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that 1,3-butadiene may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen.”

That wasn’t the only chemical in the BAAQMD report. The report is supposed to be available in the city’s website, but the link doesn’t work. Shocking, I know. It compares the levels of various toxins in the environment to those in the Caldecott Tunnel. The levels of all the substances the measured are 2-5 times higher than in the tunnel, so breathing the smoke from the fire is roughly like hanging out in the Caldecott for 3 days straight. Not that anyone would do that. Of course not. Unless the fire department decided for you, as the AFD did for us. on March 29th.

I’m looking at another document too. It’s page one of the Renovation Agreement between PM Realty Group (the owner/operator of the FISC building) and FERMA, the contractor that is going to tear down the building.

It’s a contract for removing 50,000 square feet of friable asbestos. Friable asbestos is the airborne, dangerous kind.

Funny thing about the BAAQMD test results: there’s no result listed for asbestos. That means, they didn’t test for friable asbestos, even though there’s 50,000 square feet of it awaiting removal at the FISC site and it’s considered one of the most toxic substances known. They didn’t test for lead either, even though there are many chips of it all over the island.

Seems odd to me.


2 Responses to “Just like 3 days in the Caldecott Tunnel”

  1. David Howard Says:

    Didn’t the City say that downwind air samples were taken on the same day of the fire? I’m trying to re-locate that statement – perhaps it was in the press.

    But it seems pretty clear that NO downwind samples were taken on the day of the fire.

  2. zizzlah Says:

    That’s right – no downwind air samples were taken. We have that from the BAAQMD area inspector.

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